By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
It's not clean new wave. It's not art rock. It's not straight experimental. Mission Giant's latest release, Golden Triangle, takes the synthesized and oft-instrumental works of 2003's Brotherhood of the Plug into a new genre—which I'll go ahead and dub arcade art wave.
With several release celebrations on the calendar for this week—a KNON-89.3 FM benefit midnight on Friday and a next-day reception at noon for Mighty Fine Plush Agent: Dallas Galleries Invade El Centro (which includes the band's video installation) at the college's H. Paxton Moore Gallery—Mission Giant is not only offering easy access to its new tunes, but is, on this album, making its inventions more accessible in general.
Listeners get hooks, laughs and memorable beats in addition to the band's adventurous terrain of glitch, blip and bleep. The Eno, Numan and Kraftwerk influences are still present—only they're now lying beneath the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, along with the expected intelligent composition and the marriage of toys with traditional instruments. It's on this record that the gamer finds a musical haven.
That's right, the gamer.
With each member having techy tendencies—from the synth-adoration of founding members M and Gavin DeCuir to Corbett Sparks' DJ/laptop wizard alter-ego Geeky C and Shane Culp's day job of being the director of development for online games at MTV Networks—all seven Giants are well-versed in the joys of games, 8-bit to current gen. And it 's wholly evident on Golden Triangle in both full-length tracks and shorter, spirited interludes.
So, naturally, I asked the boys to debate their most influential videogame soundtracks (or sound bites) at their weekend band meeting. Just a guess: The "in no particular order" disclaimer that came with the results prevented some sort of face-off. The high-scorers (and occasional band comment) follow:
—Final Fantasy IV (SNES)
—Dune 2: The Building of an Empire (PC): "Excellent, moody use of an FM synthesizer."
—Shadowgate (NES): "Gave Jermy [Johnson, Mission Giant member] the creeps to listen to it."
—ICO (PS2): "Especially the save game music."
—Almost all Williams arcade games: "Defender and Robotron being the apex."
—Flow (PS3): "Very Eno-esque."
—Grim Fandango (PC)
—The songs of K.K. Slider in Animal Crossing (GameCube)
—Space Harrier (arcade)
—Pole Position: "Prepare to qualify"
—"The death sounds from Gauntlet and Q-Bert which seemed to use the coin slot to make the noise!"